Saturday, April 17, 2010


Story at Talking Points Memo right now:

All 41 Senate Republicans Oppose Financial Reform Bill, Say Will Lead To 'Endless Taxpayer Bailouts'

Every member of the Senate Republican Caucus has signed a letter, delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, expressing opposition to the Democrats' financial regulatory reform bill, which they all claim will lead to more Wall Street bailouts....

More from Matt Yglesias:

Back in January, Frank Luntz wrote a memo saying that the best way to defend Wall Street from any new regulation was to spuriously characterize efforts at regulatory reform as leading to "endless bailouts." ... Today, all 41 Senate Republicans have signed a letter promising to oppose the Democrats' Wall Street reform bill....

They claim that the bill "allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street...."

Of course the status quo already allows for endless taxpayer bailouts. The point of the new regulatory powers it to (a) prevent the need for bailouts and (b) provide an alternative process to bailouts....

So Democrats have proposed moderate legislation -- and what do you know? Republicans have taken a right-wing, corporatist stance, run it through the Frank Luntz talking-point-o-meter, and emerged with an intellectually dishonest but (in all likelihood) effective bit of messaging, which they've united around as a bloc and which they're all repeating ad nauseam in the (probably well-founded) belief that if they utter the message often enough, the public will believe it.

Imagine my amazement.

And the Democrats, as usual, have done absolutely no messaging of their own, and have done nothing whatsoever to neutralize or even rebut the Republicans' talking point.

Do any of you read Oliver Sacks? He's a neurologist whose bestselling books include The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, and Musicophilia. He writes about people with brain disorders; a few years ago he wrote about Clive Wearing, a British man who suffered a brain infection that left him with a literal seven-second memory. Wearing processes what he experiences and responds appropriately, but he literally forgets what's just happened to him immediately after it happens. In an eyeblink -- and I mean in an actual eyeblink -- he forgets.

As his wife says in a documentary film made about him:

Clive's world now consists of a moment with no past to anchor it and no future to look ahead to. It is a blinkered moment. He sees what is right in front of him, but as soon as that information hits the brain it fades. Nothing makes an impression. Nothing registers.

How many years have Republicans done this to Democrats? And Democrats still don't understand that, in order to get anything done (or at least get anything done without infuriating a public that swallows GOP propaganda whole, as happened with health care), they need to counter this messaging effectively?

Democrats: the Clive Wearing party. Every new example of this seems like the first time to them.

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